June 23, 2023



Time Magazine just released its list of the 100 Most Influential Companies. It’s an interesting snapshot of where the business world is now and where it’s heading.

Beyond mainstays like Apple, Capital One, Microsoft, Netflix, and Walmart, the list is full of young companies that are shaking up their industries, sometimes with innovative thinking and, in many cases, by leveraging new technology. They’re startups like Divvy Homes, which offers first-time home buyers a rent-to-own option; Shein, which is making fast fashion even faster by identifying emerging trends using AI; Joro, an app that tracks individuals’ carbon emissions based on their credit card spending; and Perfect Day, which makes “dairy-identical products” without cows using microflora.

Lists like this always remind me of the entrepreneurial spirit that drives both the clients we serve and our own team. The world is full of problems—as the day’s headlines so often remind us—but it’s also full of entrepreneurs who see these challenges as a chance to offer a new and meaningful solution, and, in some cases, to give back to society while they’re at it.

With so many new and creative ideas percolating in the business world, no one in any industry can take it for granted that the ways they’re doing things now will remain viable in the future. As many of our clients are telling us, what worked before the pandemic doesn’t quite do the trick now. Businesses are looking at their purchasing decisions differently, and so are consumers. In some industries, customer sentiment is evolving from week to week.

The only answer in an environment like this is to listen to and observe whatever is happening around you carefully. The disruptors and innovators on Time’s list came up with their ideas by paying attention to pain points, gaps, and inconveniences they were experiencing, or hearing about in the marketplace—and looking for ways to address them. Other people’s headaches were their inspiration.

One thing that stood out for me was that instead of trying to hold onto existing ways of doing things or to iterate on legacy systems, many of the startups came up with entirely new approaches. That’s going to happen more and more as new generations of entrepreneurs enter the workforce and startup arena. They simply don’t have the patience to come up with elaborate workarounds for systems that are overdue for an overhaul.

The good news for many middle market companies is they are very well-positioned to make the most of this environment. The majority of those we serve are still very much in touch with their entrepreneurial roots, and many are still run by the founders or their families. And they have the strong teams in place that they need to put big, industry-changing ideas in motion.

Many entrepreneurs have been feeling tired after the ups and downs of the past few years, but as lists like this underline, there are many reasons to be inspired. The customer complaints and business snafus that seem like distractions today could be the ticket to a new phase of growth tomorrow if we see them as the opportunities they are.

Have a great weekend, everyone!